This recipe is dedicated to my grandmother, Dvora, who loves all cheesecakes great and small. If you were to take her to a café with cheesecake on the menu, she would probably order it. She deserves it. Having turned 88 in January, this remarkable woman lived through the Great Depression and a World War, when even something as basic to us as cream was beyond luxury. I imagine her first cheesecake, later in life, was nothing short of an epiphany.
With so much lore and sagas and memories rooted in this one particular dessert, it is no wonder that this recipe is the one I would like to be remembered for. It is very special. I never wrote it down. When holidays or birthdays or special requests came up, this cake just magically appeared for my friends and family. I liked it that way for a long time.
Now that I’ve started my own blog, my view has changed. The elementary act of sharing (especially recipes) opens up all kinds of opportunities for new people to carry your treasures forward and incorporate them into new histories. Maybe someday one of my children will take this recipe and give it his or her own special twist. Maybe they will serve it to me when I'm too old and tired to bake one. Better yet - maybe they will remember stories of my grandmother, who loves cheesecakes beyond any other sweet. —SharonP
1 9-inch cheesecake
For the cheesecake
graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
unsalted butter, melted and cooled
cream cheese (8 oz each), room temperature
large eggs, room temperature
heavy cream (keep it out of the fridge for about 30 min before using)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with aluminum foil.
To make the crust, place the graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush the crackers using the back of a heavy spoon or flat meat tenderizer. Place the crumbs into a bowl and toss with the Tbs of granulated sugar. Add the melted butter, using a fork to incorporate the butter throughout the crumbs. Place the mixture into the springform pan and press it into the bottom, evening out and flattening the crust. Set aside.
To make the cheesecake filling, place the 4 cream cheese packages into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. It’s important to have the cheese at room temperature, otherwise it won’t beat properly. Add the granulated sugar and beat to incorporate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well before adding another. Add the vanilla extract and place the mixer on medium-low speed. With the mixer running, slowly add the heavy cream in a stream. Once added, raise the speed to medium high and beat until the entire mixture is smooth. You may need to scrape the bowl with a spatula and beat the mixture some more if there are any lumps at the bottom.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Set the springform pan into the center of a larger square or rectangular pan that is at least 1-1 ½ inches deep. Boil some water in a kettle or put hot tap water in a pitcher and pour the water into the rectangular pan so that the water is at least ½ inch to 1 inch deep (be careful not to get water into the springform pan with the cheesecake). This forms the water bath that will help prevent the cheesecake from cracking.
Carefully place the pans together into the oven and bake for about 55-60 minutes. When done, the middle of the cheesecake should still jiggle when moved, but the edges should be slightly more firm and the top a very light golden color. Be careful not to overcook the cheesecake or the texture will be heavy instead of creamy.
Remove the pans from the oven. Take the springform pan out of the water bath and remove the aluminum foil wrapping. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cheesecake has cooled, you can remove the outer ring of the pan (you may want to run a knife along the edge first). Place the cheesecake on a plate or stand and cover with cellophane. Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight.
To serve the cheesecake, allow it to stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes before cutting.
For the raspberry sauce
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, just to melt the sugar. Set aside to cool. Place the cooled sugar water and the raspberries in a blender and puree until smooth. Drizzle some sauce over each slice of cheesecake.